A number of airports in Europe are working to bring 30 minute COVID-19 tests to airports, Bloomberg reports. The aviation industry is hoping it could persuade more travelers to resume air travel.
Rome’s international airport was first to introduce rapid pre-flight screening earlier this month. Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe, is also testing similar solutions.
“We need the system to work and work quickly. Otherwise this industry will not survive,” International Air Transport Association director general Alexandre de Juniac said during a Thursday event, as quoted by Bloomberg.
International travel has taken a nosedive during the pandemic, with governments around the world putting heavy restrictions on the movement of people to curb infection rates.
Some airlines are hoping that pre-flight screening could allow travelers to skip self-quarantine after travel. For instance, United Airlines believes passengers could skip 14-day quarantine requirements on certain flights to and from Hawaii, according to Bloomberg.
Rapid Antigen Test
The “rapid antigen tests” can detect a specific protein on the surface of the virus, a departure from the usual polymerase chain reaction tests (PCR) that generally take much longer. The test involves a simple swab and can be completed in just 30 minutes. It’s also far cheaper.
The idea is to have travelers be swabbed up to 72 hours before boarding a flight. Anybody who tests negative will be sent back home and ordered to self-isolate. But specialists worry that since antigen tests aren’t as sensitive as PCR, some infected people could end up falling through the cracks.
READ MORE: Airports Use Speedy Virus Tests, Sniffer Dogs to Spur Travel [Bloomberg]